Belittling or denigrating the achievements of others


Tonight I met with a group of Go players and was very excited to show them the big game I won recently by killing a big group. These people are the ones who have trained me over the past year (along with much online play) to advance from 30k to 9k.

I made it very clear, as I started to replay the game, that I got very lucky and my opponent made some silly mistakes.

And yet, one fellow insisted on showing me all the stupid moves I made, and all the spots where my opponent could have struck back and crushed me. This was not from a cautionary standpoint -- he did so to make jokes and poke fun.

I hope he had a good time, because it really took the wind out of my sails. A lot of this goes back to WhatItMeansToBeASensei, but it seems just plain rude to me to harp on the negative like this when a person is clearly so excited about his/her achievement. He made jokes (as he often does) about how he always makes dumb moves too, but his comments just sucked the joy out of the evening.

None of my non-Go-playing friends could understand why I would be so elated about this diagram I kept showing them -- and then when I found a group of people who might understand, one of them made it his mission to break apart all of my euphoria.

Don't do this! If someone achieves some Go-related victory, be happy for them and celebrate at their side!

-- Scartol

Davou: Perhaps your missing the point of what your teachers were trying to do. Your saying that your opponent made some silly mistakes can be taken as a sign of arrogance... Putting down your opponents in-ability to see the correct responce to your play is arrogant considering there are people who can say the same thing about you... And then people who can say the same about them aswell... I dont think they wanted to suck the fun out of your victory, only make it clear that that particular opponent was beaneath you, that you are beneath them, and that they are in fact beneath many others... Very few people are meijin, and the most honourable thing one can do is retain a dignified respect for the progress your opponent is trying to make. (I mean absolutely no offence by the above comment. Just my two cents.)

axd: The attitude, they way you tell something, is also important. ALways respect the weaker player.

Confused: Scartol, are you sure, you weren't just fishing for compliments? Although making fun of someone elses achievement isn't good practice, perhaps you weren't really in the mood for a fair analysis of the game either.

Peter Mioch's interview of Catalin Taranu has a very telling story about game analyses ([ext] here, sub-section Pride) .

Dieter: I acknowledge that you had a very good feeling about this game. This game and the way it ended - with a large kill - surely brought you a lot of satisfaction. I would certainly not try to bring you back down to earth by making belittling comments. After all, it takes only a 5d to make my comments look ridiculous and another 9p to ridicule the 5d. Once the excitement has settled down however, I'd recommend to go over this game once again with a stronger player. He will be able to point out weaknesses in your approach and teach you how to kill such large groups with even more sharpness. When you receive those comments not as an attempt to show how weak you are after all, but as an opportunity to learn, there will be more and deeper satisfaction later. In the meantime, enjoy the triumph.

Charles Matthews No one should use their position as a stronger player in a group to run down weaker players, in any fashion. This runs completely against the spirit of teaching in the game's best traditions. That being said, it is usually possible to learn more from expert analysis of a game one has lost.

Scartol: I didn't mean to suggest that I'm not open to review and criticism -- quite the contrary, I seek it out all the time. But this was an occasion in which I wanted to 'strut my stuff' a little, as it were. Of course we should be willing to hear what better players think of our games, so we can benefit from their knowledge. But as I said, my friend was not commenting in the spirit of education and stewardship; he was making fun and using his skill to intentionally reduce my elation. Sad.

unkx80: Actually I think we can make a lot of comments on this game you have posted. Except that we are all looking for the right time to start posting comments. =)

Chris Hayashida: I find I accidentally do this sometimes. I'm so used to teaching mode, that sometimes I don't realize the player just wanted a "good job there." (I've been accused of this in trying to "fix" a problem that a friend is having, instead of just "listening to it and sympathizing.") Anyway, congrats on a good game. Nice kill. :)

Tamsin: It can happen that sometimes strong (and some not as strong) board game players are not so strong in the social skills department. It is often not that they want to belittle or offend anybody, but rather that they are unaware that their comments may be hurting others' feelings. Some people do belittle others to try to feel better for their own inadequacies, while others are simply trying to help you; in either case, maybe the best thing is to be the bigger person, and to listen to their advice, and to take satisfaction from possessing such superior qualities as humility and understanding.

Anonymous ( simple..... get some one else, or censore the person or tell him straight up to shut up. If he cross the line, you don't have to hold back.

axd: Or be compassionate,

mrkibbles: I've always considered it a bad habbit to do stuff like getting excited over a victory, one victory doesn't matter.

Vincent: At the very least I always feel it's important to praise good moves as well as criticize bad ones. In fact, when doing a review with a weaker player I make a point of giving twice as many compliments about what they did right as gentle and constructive criticism where they went wrong. (Although I will give a sharp word if they constantly make a mistake I've already discussed with them a few times and I feel is beneath them. It's the only way some people learn.)

axd: Don't. They decide if they want to learn. What is better? Enjoying the game, of learning? If someone keeps making the same mistake, do you have to give up on them? Instead, how about putting them back in that situation, again and again, until they finally see it?

JohnMoser: Be prepared to take some serious flaming for your stupid mistakes. When you reach higher levels, you'll be reading a dozen or three moves into the game; at that point, even very subtle mistakes shouldn't happen. It is typical in Go for high-level teachers to come down rather hard for just about everything.

Morihei Ueshiba was the same, chastising his student harshly over a victory where the student attacked his opponent first--if you are not being attacked, you can't lose by standing there. It is not uncommon for Go teachers to come down harshly on their students for their outright blunders; they are often nicer for good but less-than-correct play.

Go is a game for warriors, and when warriors make a mistake they die-- and then who will defend those who cannot fight? Have you never lost a game entirely because of one stone that could have solidified control over a contested area, but was played in the wrong location? Did you never watch one capture turn into two, then three, then eight, then suddenly groups, and now you've lost 37 stones and your opponent has claimed roughly 40 points of what was your territory? All because you had one vital point to play to make life, and it was your turn, and you played a meaningless non-vital point.

It is said: we are very happy you have defended us from the squirrel; but the village needs its idiot back.

Anonymous: From the original post I doubt that the scoffing was the genial scolding that the master gives the student. Also, go is not war, despite what all the Sun Tzu fans and martial arts people say. Go is a game. No way is it a matter of life and death nor is there shame attached to winning or losing. If you lose just take it as an opportunity to learn and then play another game. Actually it isn't about winning or losing; it's about how you play the game. Everyone makes mistakes, even the strongest pros, so the goal is to play as well as you can.

Belittling or denigrating the achievements of others last edited by on November 21, 2010 - 15:40
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